CARSON CITY — A bill to increase penalties for people who commit crimes against homeless Nevadans narrowly failed to win Assembly Judiciary Committee approval last month but managed to gain the panel’s endorsement on a 9-5 vote Thursday.
Advocates for the law change have cited a surge in violence nationwide against the homeless, a trend they say is caused in part by videos depicting homeless people fighting each other.
AB83 is one of a series of bills that the advocates proposed during a “tent city” staged at the Legislature in February. More than 100 people, including several lawmakers, spent a night in cardboard boxes and tents to bring awareness to the plight of homeless people.
The bill classifies crimes against the homeless as hate crimes, allows victims to seek money through civil lawsuits and requires reporting departments to compile statistics on such crimes.
Freshman Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, chief sponsor of AB83, has said that in 2006 there were 122 attacks against homeless people nationwide, including 20 that resulted in death. He also decried the increase in teen perpetrators of such crimes and said experts believe violent video games and videos such as “Bumfights” factor into the trend.2007